The HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) as a regulator is leading its sector forward in the quickly developing medical advances in fertility treatment. However, a key part of their strategy is to look at the sector as a whole.
It is estimated that 1 in 6 couples experience some form of fertility problem at some point in their lives (source: HFEA). Faced with this significant statistic, the HFEA are not ignoring the legal and emotional impact this process can have on those undergoing treatment. As a Family Law solicitor, I find the developments of how our families are now being formed fascinating. However, as a trustee for a charity dealing with fertility issues in women, I am also aware of the need to refine both treatments and the law surrounding them to the benefit of aspiring parents.
I was fortunate to be able to attend the HFEA AGM 2017 in London on Thursday 16th March. This fantastic workshop addressed the impact of fertility treatment and identified three key issues; the emotional impact, the impact on employment and the legalities of issues surrounding treatment. Incidentally, on the same day the HFEA also granted a licence to a clinic in Newcastle to start trials of ‘three parent babies’, otherwise known as mitochondrial donations.
As the HFEA has rightly identified, the process of fertility treatment can have a significant impact on society. For example, how many employers out there have recognised the need to have flexi time policies for those on fertility treatment, given the impact it can have on someone’s health? Furthermore, clinics are now recognising the need to ensure staff are trained on the legal consequences of fertility treatment, from the storage of embryos to consent forms, as this can affect legal parenthood.
I will be keeping a close eye on further developments in this rapidly growing area and what they mean for both those undertaking fertility treatment and those with fertility issues.
Giles Wilson is a leading firm in the area of fertility law. If this is an area on which you are seeking advice, contact one of our solicitors in Essex.